In the words of an article written by the American Psychiatric Association and posted on psychiatry.org, depression a.k.a major depressive disorder is a common medical illness that affects how you feel, think and act negatively. Depression is not sadness or grief but it causes one to have feelings of sadness and its symptoms range from mild to severe.
According to research, depression is estimated to affect one in 15 adults yearly and one in six people will go through depression at some point in their life. A person must have symptoms for at least two weeks and must be represented by a change in your former level of functioning to get a diagnosis of depression.
Though anyone can have depression, chemical factors in the brain, genetics, personality and environmental factors may also influence the disorder. Depression is completely treatable using:
- Medication which are antidepressants taken for the purpose of modifying one’s brain chemistry.
- Psychotherapy/talk therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which focuses on channeling one’s negative thoughts towards more positive thoughts and actions.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): which involves briefly stimulating the brain electronically while the patient is under anesthesia. A patient would typically receive ECT two to three times a week for a total of six to 12 treatments).
You can also help yourself through some self-coping methods such as regular exercise which help with positive feeling and mood improvement. Having full sleep regularly, eating healthy and staying away from alcohol (which is actually a depressant) can help reduce symptoms of depression.
There are different types of depression which can be diagnosed with the help of a psychiatrist. The main types are:
- Major depressive disorder: This form of depression is more severe. It’s characteristics are persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must experience symptoms like feeling depressed most of the day, loss of interest in activities, too much or lack of sleep, recurring thoughts of suicide, drastic weight loss or gain, indecisiveness or inability to concentrate etc over a 2-week period. Related types of depression are peripartum depression (previously postpartum depression), seasonal depression (Also called seasonal affective disorder), bipolar disorders, persistent depressive disorder (previously dysthymia), preemenstrual dysphoric disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder etc.
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia: This form of depression is milder, but chronic. For the diagnosis to be made, symptoms must last for at least 2 years. PDD lasts longer than major depressive disorder and so can affect your life more. PDD commonly causes people to lose interest in normal daily activities as well as productivity, feel hopeless and have low self-esteem.
If you feel you’re depressed, talk about your concerns and ask to be evaluated so as to get help. Depression is a real illness and it can be overcome.